Archive for category Business General

Using video to market your business.

Those of you that are in the business of internet marketing will undoubtedly have heard the saying “content is king”. This is especially true with using video to market your business. The use of video for SEO – Search Engine Optimisation – is fast becoming one of the most powerful marketing methods there is. Search engines love video content and will tend to rank it quite high in the stats for a particular keyword or niche – provided the content is relevant of course.

That is the key point here. As with any form of marketing, the use of keywords in video is important, not just in the title but in the content as well. SEO is all about keywords or key phrases. More than that, it is about them being used in the right places and in the right way. The other important part of getting your video recognised and watched is to upload it in all the right places. Let’s take a look at the benefits of using video for SEO purposes and why it works so well.


Given the choice between reading something and watching it on a video, most people will opt for the video. Human nature dictates that we will be more apt to take in information if we can see and hear it. For example, let’s say you produce an article about putting together a flat-pack desk and also produce a video showing how to put it together. Most people will watch the video as it is easier to follow and learn from visual content than it is from written.

Properly and professionally formatted and executed, videos reach a much wider audience. The big question is whether you should host the video on your own website or on an external site and embed the code to you your own site. The real answer depends very much on your requirements but both ways can be a huge boost to business.

Many people choose to use free video hosting sites such as YouTube and embed the code to their own website or social media site. YouTube is highly ranked on Google and therefore, any video that is uploaded should also be ranked fairly highly but this will also depend on your specific keywords that you are using. There are paid for video hosts such as Vimeo and Vzaar. It all depends on whether you actually want to spend anything on video hosting as to whether you choose one of those against a free one or using your own website. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are also good places to embed links to your videos.

If your website is highly ranked in the search engines then by all means host the video yourself but if you are just starting out then it is probably best to use embedded code and external hosting sites to try to build up your ranking first.

It is highly important for the discerning business owner to try to improve their SEO rankings and using video is one of the best methods with which to achieve this. Excellent, clear and concise visual content will generate far more traffic than just writing an article or a blog and we all know that, to generate sales for our business we need that all important – traffic!

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1300 Numbers – Routing Options

We have had quite a few enquiries this month from clients asking what types of routing are available on 1300 numbers in Australia.

So I thought I would detail the information here. The first note by the way also is that all of these configurations can be applied to the 1800 number as well. There is no difference between the routing availability on 1300 or 1800 numbers.

Single Answer Point
So the first option, and of course the most common, is to land your number to a single phone number. That can be a land line, VoIP line or a mobile phone line. The rule generally is, if you can ring the number directly then it can also be an answer point for a 1300 or 1800 number.

Overflow Routing
You can choose to overflow your number to additional numbers. You would choose a primary answer point (as mentioned above in the Single Answer Point option) and then also advise of additional numbers to land to in the event that the primary number is busy or is not answered. For example you may terminate calls to your business land line first and then overflow to your mobile phone on busy or no answer after 15 seconds. Thus if you go out of the office, you will still receive your business calls. Of course you may also have 2 or 3 land lines in the office and you could overflow through those first so that different team members could take calls when times get busy. The multiple of overflows is unlimited but you would want to consider the callers experience and have them looked after as quick as possible.

Time Of Day
This option is very effective for landing calls to different numbers during hours and after hours. Often our customers at Ozetel will land their 1300 number calls to the office during business hours and then to their mobile phone or live answer service after hours. The routing is pretty much unrestricted in that you could choose an answer point for every minute of the day if you wished!

Public Holiday Routing
We can even highlight public holidays and have your number land to special numbers for each holiday. Very useful if you are going away on a particular day.

Call Percentage Splaying
This basically means landing calls to different numbers based on a percentage set in our network. Often this is coupled with the time of day routing so that between 9am and 5pm for example, we could land 90% of calls to your Melbourne office (where the bulk of your staff work) and the remaining 10% of calls to your Sydney office. Any percentage can be set and again, as many numbers that you require to include in the splaying.

Barring Calls
There are a multitude of barring possibilities including;
– all mobile phone callers,
– callers from a specific state or region,
– specific phone numbers that are considered nuisance calls.

State Based Routing
A business can choose to have each state or territory in Australia routed to it’s own answer point – so if you have offices in each state of Australia and want only callers from that state landing to the right office, this is achievable. This of course is done for both incoming mobile and incoming fixed line callers.

Regional Routing
There are approximtaely 200 mobile phone regions covering all of Australia (for incoming calls on a mobile) that can each have their own answer point. There are far more fixed line (incoming call) regions but again, all of these set regions can have it’s own answer point for your 1300 or 1800 number.

Telstra Exchange Routing
There are thousands of Telstra Exchanges around Australia and a business can choose to have every exchange land to it’s own answer point. It is a massive routing table but very effective when you want to deliver calls to a high number of offices around Australia. The downside is this is only for incoming calls on a fixed line and the default setting for incoming mobile callers is to have just one single number for ALL mobile calls. Clients using this option will often use the Ozetel Postcode Prompter service as the default number for incoming mobile phone callers. This refines the deliver of calls and creates a much more efficient system.

Delivery By Postcode
This isn’t technically routing on the 1300 number network but Ozetel has an additional service called the Postcode Prompter service. Larger businesses, (and specifically franchises), can land their 1300 or 1800 number to the Postcode Prompter indial phone number so that all calls land to this service. Callers are then asked to enter the most relevant postcode for them and then they are landed to the most appropriate store or office, as advised by the business owner.

The final point to keep in mind is that combinations of these options can be used depending on the requirements of the business model. It really is an unlimited situation and often we will have different configurations for the same business as they grow in their industry. There are more services that Ozetel offers (similar to the Postcode Prompter) such as the IVR Menu, Fax to Email, Live Answer services but we have not mentioned those in this article. The Postcode Prompter was included because it was relevant to this discussion.

As you can see, the 1300 and 1800 number has powerful routing capabilities and fits to all business sizes from the small private company to the multinational corporation.

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Cash flow control for small business – without it you fail!

By definition a small proprietary business must fulfill two of these criteria;
– consolidated revenue of below twenty-five million dollars a year,
– value of consolidated assets at year’s end of less than twelve and a half million dollars, and
– the company employs fewer than fifty staff.

And what we are trying to say is – even at these levels, this is a LOT of cash right?!

Recent statistics show that ninety percent of all companies in Australia are small businesses. More than two and a half million Australians run these firms, directly employing a further five million people. As of February 2012, bankruptcies have risen by forty-eight percent (48%). Poor cash flow controls account for many of these failures – this is why it is vital for the Australian small business person to learn how to get it right.

Cash flow analysis is a vital tool to keep the business healthy. Preparing a cash flow budget is a core skill for keeping tabs on the company’s finances. Without these basic checks,a business might show a profit, but in reality be short of cash due to late payments by customers. A projected cash flow statement estimates the stream of money through the business in coming months, based on the history of sales and expenses. These periodic exercises reveal the current state of play in the financial welfare of the small business.

In the current monetary climate it is vital for every Australian small business to use the correct diagnostic processes to ensure they know exactly where their money is, where its going and how to raise more cash if necessary. Cash flow management practices anticipate when needs will crop up and predict what’s coming. A good motto to remember is “Cash is King” – it is the lifeblood of the small business. Recommended reading on this topic is a great book by Philip Campbell called “Never run out of cash”.

Taxes are one of the major expenses for all firms. The Australian Taxation Office offers small business support along with free and useful taxation advice. Another useful source of assistance for the Australian small business is the Australian Securities and Investments Commission who provide financial advice and services. An Australian Business Number can help to register for G.S.T and other company tax obligations. Without this number,other firms can withhold up to forty-six and a half percent of payments due to your company. Find out all you can about tax breaks,concessions,G.S.T credits. Take full advantage of this free and helpful tax advice – there are no strings attached.

Business bank accounts are vital to every small firm. It is good practice to deposit cheques daily. Mobile and on-line banking can be cost saving digital tools to put businesses on track towards responsible money management. Late bill payments can ruin cash flow as well as damaging your credit score, online banking reduces the potential costs with scheduled automatic payments. Program an alert to review varying bills and pay on-line without the postal delay of a cheque. Keep a rigorous check to reconcile your payments against your bank statements. Stay on top of disbursements to control cash flow.

Without learning these cash flow lessons, things can go downhill fast for the small company. Many business failures are primarily caused by a lack of education about cash management. Ensure you know the basics, such as collecting monies urgently and pay invoices as late as possible without incurring late fees or interest payments. Inventory is dead weight – liquidize it fast. Get cash into your firm rapidly, then hold on to it!

Cash flow control is the most important ingredient for the success of small businesses in Australia and worldwide.

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Internet Security for Wireless Networks

Computer and smart phone users now routinely connect wirelessly to the Internet, and workplace intranets. Wireless technology makes it possible to view, read, and generally interact with digital media regardless of whether we are at home, in the office, or on the move. It is easy to take this data mobility for granted, but the lack of visual clutter previously created by wires taped to floors and walls also means the removal of a physical barrier to entry into the network.

Wireless access points (WAP), often referred to simply as routers, are devices that allow connection to a wired network. By removing a physical point of entry into the network this box has created the possibility that a person sitting in a car outside your house or workplace, but within range of its wireless signal, can potentially connect directly to your network and its computers.
Some security commentators recommend configuring your network so it doesn’t broadcast its network name (SSID). The idea here is to make the network invisible to Windows-based devices; so that hackers will be unaware the network even exists. But Microsoft’s TechNet forum says this approach is ineffective, and leads to other problems. Instead, they recommend that authentication and encryption are correctly set up as this is the best line of defence.

Another approach, if your WAP allows it, is to reduce the strength of your network transmission and tune it until the network leakage outside of your home or business premises becomes minimal. This reduces your network visibility, and the weaker signal is less useful to would be hijackers.

The American National Security Agency (NSA) recommends WPA2 network encryption because it offers stronger encryption than the previous WPA and WEP standards. This standard needs recent hardware to run, but combined with a strong password, it is considered to be very secure and your best defence against network intrusion.

The NSA also recommends administration of home networking devices should only be from inward facing devices, and to disable remote administration. In commercial situations where networks devices can be managed via a web interface, it is essential that passwords on these devices are strong and complex.

To summarise network security considerations, they generally fall into one of two categories, physical or virtual security. The risk can either be managed by controlling the physical devices entering the building, or the risk can be managed by controlling virtual factors like the number of available logins.

SOURCES:
The NSA
Practically Networked
Technet – Microsoft

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When To Use A 1800 Toll Free Number

When deciding to get an inbound number (that is a 1300 or 1800 number), business owners need to choose whether to go with a 1300 number or a 1800 number.

A 1300 number is great for Australian business if you have a majority of local clients who call you. This is because the owner of the 1300 number will get free time on every call that is deemed to be a “local” call. That is, a caller who is using a fixed line to call and is within 50 to 60 kilometres from your answer point for the 1300 number, which by the way must also be a fixed line. If you do no have a majority of local callers then there is no benefit to you as the owner of the inbound number.

Thus, you may as well go a 1800 number because the costs will be the same to you.

The additional benefit of course, is that 1800 numbers in Australia are considered “toll free” numbers. That means, callers who ring your 1800 can call that number for free, whereas a call to a 1300 is charged at a once off fee of usually 25 to 30 cents depending on their carrier. Now it is important to remember that both of these considerations change when you consider the caller who calls on a mobile phone. Mobile phone carriers will often charge a per minute rate for us to call a 1800 number and so the “toll free” characteristic goes out the window. Also, calling a 1300 number can be higher on mobiles, again depending on the mobile carrier in Australia. Of course, the call to a 1300 can never be a “local call” when callers use a mobile phone line also.

So it is worth weighing up these points and choose accordingly.

Do you have a market predominantly outside a local foot print?
Do you want to present to the market as a “free” call?

If your answer to both of these questions is yes then you would generally choose a 1800 number because you would be creating more value to your market and the costs of the calls would be the same.

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Netgear Modem Router Issues For VoIP

Internet telephony is a must nowadays for small business, especially with the continued rolling out of the NBN. There is so much to look forward to in the future with the speed and precision of the fibre networks of the NBN.

As we continue to activate VoIP based phone systems, currently still over ADLS2+ connections, we notice that there are things to consider with the hardware that we are placing these phone systems on. Ozetel, my company that I am very proud of, generally has been using Netgear routers for these internet based phone connections and we have always had great reviews both internally and with our clients.

But it is important to note that developments will always occur both with the networks (like the NBN) and with the hardware we use to run those networks over. Netgear have enhanced the management capabilities of functions like NAT Filtering and UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) which although giving access to additional flexibility for the internet user, are creating issues for the VoIP network phones that sit on the internet. We have encountered that with the DGN2200 recently and have had 2 days of trialing settings and coming up with blanks! While it has been a bit frustrating it is also a good thing for our industry because it means we need to stay on the cutting edge of coding and development to stay in line with the hardware that we rely on.

It has meant enhancement of our VoIP network coding and programming and while that is time consuming it enhances the service to our clients. The other option we have of course is to stick with one type of modem/router that will always be the same when a new phone system is activated. However, the problem there is that companies like Netgear will cease stocking models when new ones are produced so we need to stay up with the game.

This will continue in to the future and forever really as technology winds it’s way through the doors of time. Consider the NBN, a fibre optic network that will require new hardware to cope with the incredible enhancements we are about to see. Again, we will need to evolve the VoIP networks to ensure quality supply of telephony services over the net and I am sure that leading companies like Netgear will work with us to do so.

I still very much recommend Netgear and the products they produce even with the extra brain power they require of me!

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RACQ Protecting Your Child With The Help Of Ozetel

Since 2004, Ozetel Pty Ltd has been working with the largest club in Australia to enhance telecommunications technology for their roadside assistance services.

RACQ – Kids In Cars.
One of the wonderful initiatives taken by the RACQ was the prevention of children being stranded in vehicles in dangerously high temperatures. Queensland has an unforgiving climate, extremes of which can be fatal in both heat and flood. The RACQ took the initiative by completing a study named the RACQ Temperature in Cars Survey in 2009 which produced findings that all vehicle owners should be aware of.

A series of tests carefully administered by the trained staff at the RACQ showed that there really is no situation that is safe when leaving children in a vehicle unattended, especially where that vehicle is not accessible. The interior temperatures were studied in depth giving rise to the following;

– All tests showed temperatures too high for a child’s safety and that danger was reached in very short time spans,
– A vehicle’s interior temperature can go from an air conditioned state of safety to a dangerously high state of 40 degrees within 7 minutes,
– A 32.5 degree outside temperature equated to an interior temperature of 75.1 degrees,
– The colour of the vehicle nor the tinting of windows will ever create safety and,
– Shaded vehicles still presented dangerously high findings.

Source: RACQ, Kids In Cars.

OZETEL, Call Routing Specialist.
In 2004, Ozetel worked with the RACQ management to develop custom telecommunications technology allowing their trained support experts to be contacted proficiently and securely. The developers at Ozetel designed, tested and implemented a telecommunications platform whereby a series of mobile phone lines monitored by the RACQ technical support team, would be dialed when the need arose from Queensland vehicle owners. It was the first of it’s kind in Australia, providing an imperative solution to a much needed roadside assistance service.

An unlimited number of lines are placed within the configuration of the platform and in the required position or order of placement. The Ozetel Sequencer platform then calls each line, one after the other, until the call is taken or overflows on to the next line. The complete sequence is repeated again until a successful termination of the call to one of the support mobile lines or the final answer point within RACQ management accepts the call.

Ozetel then created both an automated rearrangement of mobile lines on a given day as specified by the RACQ as well as a state of the art, online management tool to edit positioning of lines within the sequencer.

More recently, the creative and professional team at Ozetel, have been liaising with the RACQ to develop platforms to accommodate internal control and monitoring of job ID’s for their incredible assistance services to the public of Queensland.

Over the last 6 months, Ozetel has developed custom platforms to accommodate the entry of 12 digit Job ID’s and the careful distribution of data and call flow to ensure the right team member is reached. The complexity of both functionality and reporting has been a challenge but very rewarding to the Ozetel development staff. It was a bold step to customise the already popular Postcode Prompter technology developed by Ozetel 8 years ago to allow the extension of the technology to fit the RACQ’s internal business model.

A final word from the CEO, Anthony Matejcich;

“Ozetel are proud to be associated with a “community minded” entity like the RACQ. It is a pleasure to be contributing, even if in a small way, to the value they give to Queensland.

Original Source: The Ozetel Blog.

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Get A Real Person For Nothing…

It is a well researched issue but we still hear about many businesses losing client calls because they are using a Message Bank on their telephone line with Telstra. As a caller I know I get frustrated enough when I do not get someone after calling a business for something I need. I would obviously much prefer to get straight to the person who can answer my question. As an alternative, I would much rather get a person to talk to and feel like my message is taken seriously.

It is very easy and economic to do nowadays – simply employ a company to take the calls on your behalf. They can (loosely speaking of course), act as the receptionist for you, take the message from the caller and send that through to you for you to action at your earliest convenience. The service is known as a Live Answering Service and will improve the retention rate of your callers.

Ozetel has been supplying these services for 8 years now and we have had feedback that is very positive. Many business owners have told us that the success of the product is exciting for them. They have found a 60% increase in callers leaving a message for them and even more importantly, find that the relationship between them and their clients is warmer and secure. The caller tends to feel like they are dealing with a company that is larger and one that cares about their call.

Yes, it is true, you need to be careful that the call centres used are not off shore because this can present a dark light on your business but it can be covered by asking the company that you are employing. Most will have access to Australian based call operators and often just overflow calls late at night to an offshore base.

It is worth considering as business owners – get rid of the ancient message bank and get a real person answering your calls when you are too busy to do so. Maybe you are out there selling or supporting your existing customer base, but wouldn’t it be better to keep the sales happening while you are doing that?

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SEO – Don’t Watch The Kettle Boil!

SEO – Don’t Watch The Paint Dry!

I come from a fishing family and grew up on the water and beaches of the south west of Western Australia. We would fit in school work during the long nights we were pulling nets. My dad was a fisherman, his dad before him and well you get the picture. My brothers…fisherman also, both very proficient on the water and blessed with one skill I didn’t have nor have brought into the world of business (specifically SEO)…patience! I also got sea sick but that’s another story and not that relevant to business so I won’t go into that here.

Patience however, is very much one of the skills we need as business people if we are going to be successful at Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

SEO is not a process that will happen quickly. I guess we can definitely take a leaf out of the spiritual leaders of the world and say there is no “quick fix”. SEO has always been a trial and error world because of the lack of transparency from Google. Why should they give away their business model? Would we? I think not.

Over the years many have experimented with web design, keyword placement, back linking and so much more. Trying different tactics and waiting to see what happens once the google machine looks at them again. It is a continued attempt to decipher the Google algorythms. Over time this has created a series of practices that will work but it has taken a long time. The only way of discovering this was playing a very timely patience game.

Of course throw into the mix that Google does not and will not sit on their hands when it comes to keeping us guessing, moving the goals posts. Businesses will eventually be discovered by Google. Just when we think we have it, it will be taken away and we will need to go back to the drawing boards. The latest algorythm update was a perfect example of that. Millions of websites around the world have been punished for unnatural back linking practices in the March 2012 wrap over the knuckles by Google. Check out some information on the Panda Update.

The tendency is to keep watching webmasters to check for links or to continually check where we are ranked for particular keywords in our industry that we are looking to be competitive in.

But it will not help. It makes me question the whole process and whether I should be doing something else. I want to see the results of my labour and see that I am achieving something. But the more I watch the more it doesn’t happen, a bit like the kettle right?

So, what it comes down to is having a plan in place. Write the articles, join the forums, post the comments, do the youtube videos, interact in the social media forums etc etc. Make a consistent plan and follow it. Do the processes diligently and consistently. Part of that plan, do not check webmasters or rankings more then weekly, there is no point and it will just make you take your eye off the ball. Indexing of site URL’s can take weeks depending on the links you have and the age of the site etc etc. Keyword movement can take weeks also. Trust the process and set a 2 month goal.

It is possible that some of things you do may not work. Google will continue to review SEO practices that are against their company vision and things will change constantly. Accept it. If the worst is that you find out you are actually on the wrong track well at least you have been positive in your attack and more importantly, you have discovered one more way not to do things meaning you are one step closer to what does!

Just as Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Patience grasshopper!

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Starting a New Business: What do I Need to Consider?

Having a vision for a new business venture is one thing. The preparation and execution is something entirely different.

Before you can start to live out your dreams of becoming a successful business person, you must first build the foundations.

Ask yourself the following fundamental questions:

• Is the idea for your business viable?
• Is there a demand for your services in the marketplace?
• What or who exactly is your market?
• Have you researched any competitors?
• Are you in a financial position to get the business off the ground?

Developing a Business Plan and Researching the Market

Use reports and statistics from government websites and industry specific publications and journals. When you have carried out this initial research, and are confident the idea is feasible, you should then look at creating your business plan using the following steps:

• Business goals
• Marketing initiatives
• Researching your industry
• Operations and management planning
• Financial planning

Given that your business plan is going to be your blue-print for the future of your business, you’ll need to factor in reviewing it regularly.

Keep in touch with me and I will highlight the indepth creation of a Business Plan over the coming weeks.

Researching the Market

Consider the products and services you’ll have on offer. You will need to establish if in fact, there is a strong market for it, and if you are able to successfully reach that market. By undertaking such research, you’ll be in a better position to evaluate the best options for marketing.

The Competition

By thoroughly researching your competition you can establish:

• Your most direct competition
• If or why they are successful
• Their strengths and weaknesses
• Their marketing strategies

Finance

Obtaining the right amount of financial assistance, is the backbone for the viability and success of your business. Within your business plan, you’ll need to factor in sufficient funding for start-up costs, as well as cash flow (depending on your inventory needs and other projected out-goings).

Naming Your Business

The name you choose for your business will have an impact on its future. You can consider the following points:

Competitors. Assess the names of your competition, and make an effort to be unique from them.
Business goals. How can you merge your business name to compliment your goals? How Can You Differentiate?
Branding and marketing. How will the name work-in with the marketing initiatives set-out within your business plan?
Appealing to the market. Select a business name that is easy to spell, can be remembered easily and can be easily pronounced.

Before you become too attached to your chosen business name, undertake the relevant availability checks with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission to ensure the name you chose is available. Make sure there are no trademarks on your business name by searching IP Australia.

Business Structure Options

Sole Trader. As a sole trader, you cannot separate any legal existence between you and the business – you are personally responsible for any liabilities.
Partnership. This involves at least 2 people starting a business. Partners of the business equally share the risks, loses and profits.
Company (Pty Ltd). A company set-up, involves more regulatory requirements, and is considered a separate entity.

Seek professional advice from an accountant to help choose the better option. You should plan this from the start as this is the best time. Waiting can cost you money.

GST, ABNs and TFNs

If your annual turnover is expected to be greater than $50,000, you must then register for the Goods and Services Tax (GST). This then requires you to also apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN) via the Australian Business Register.

Registering your Domain Name

Even if you decide not to launch a business website initially, you should definitely make sure you register and secure your preferred domain name for the future.

Other important elements to add to your new business start-up checklist should include:
• Business premises
• Insurances
• Business vehicles
• Taxation requirements
• Legal obligations
• Familiarizing government bodies for quick reference guides

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